How to Become a Casino Dealer?

Years Ago, Luckier Slots Were

Hand selected by their instructors, the craps students were the gifted and talented whiz kids compared with the multitudes who spent much of their time studying blackjack.

But they also faced the greatest challenge in learning the iconic dice game. With countless odds and procedures to remember and an enormous number of bets to track, craps is the most complicated casino game to deal.

And one day in late February, DeRosa, a 37-year-old group fitness instructor from White Marsh, was overwhelmed — muttering, sweating and shaking as she struggled to pick up the clay casino chips she would need to pay the winner, whatever that amount might be.

“Come on, Cara, you know this, ” her teacher said encouragingly. “You’ve got this.”

To become a dealer at Maryland’s largest casino, DeRosa would have to pass her audition. To pass the audition, she would have to pay the bet.

Instead, she froze. Then she sobbed. Then she held out her hands and rotated them for the surveillance cameras that didn’t actually exist in the classroom. Then she ran for the exit.

“What is going on here?” barked the teacher, Albert Foschini, as somebody went to console DeRosa.

Foschini called off the tryouts. He couldn’t bear to observe more implosions. “It’s like death, watching youse guys audition, ” he said. He puffed his cheeks like a blowfish and exhaled. “Just get back to practicing.”

DeRosa eventually returned to the tense classroom and the laborious business of learning.

“This may be fun and exciting for the players, ” she said later. “But it’s not playtime for us on the other side. Dealing craps is difficult. It’s stressful.”

But, she vowed, “it’s what I want to do.”

Middle-class paycheck

As Maryland voters considered a dramatic expansion of commercial gambling last November, the pro-casino forces pushed two selling points: tax revenue and jobs. Legalizing blackjack, roulette and other table games would generate as much as $51 million in additional annual revenue, supporters promised.

And it would create 1, 600 jobs statewide — an appealing prospect in a state still recovering from recession.

Maryland’s unemployment rate in February was 6.6 percent, more than a full percentage point behind the national average, according to the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics. But that still translated to more than 200, 000 people looking for work.

So demand was overwhelming when one of the largest commercial casinos in the country began advertising hundreds of jobs with middle-class paychecks, benefits and the prospect of something increasingly elusive: advancement.

“I want to deal for a while and then move up. This is a career for me, ” said Karl Kim, a 46-year-old from Glen Burnie who was out of work last year when he applied online. He survived the initial screening process and wound up learning craps. Just in time, too: His girlfriend lost her job as he was finishing his training.

“I really want to be able to provide, ” he said. “I need a decent salary.”

The school was no minor commitment for Kim and the other students. They agreed to spend four hours in class every weekday for 12 weeks, with no guarantee that they would be offered a job — or be able to obtain the state license necessary to work at the casino. There were also optional Saturday sessions at the school, and everybody was instructed to practice at home.

“If they were to tell me I’m behind, I’d practice all night, ” Jason Wiener declared one day before class.

Wiener, 30, was working as a supermarket pharmacy technician in Baltimore County. He’d quit once before, and he was ready to quit again. “It’s pretty tedious, and I’ve gotten about as far as I can get without being a pharmacist, ” he explained. “I actually hate my job.”

Dealing craps, he said, “would pay a lot more than I make now, and I love the atmosphere. Casinos are interesting to me, and the job has real growth potential. I’d eventually like to move up to management from dealing.”

Maryland Live executives predicted that some new dealers would be offered supervisor positions within two years and be promoted to pit managers within five.

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